Power, prickly pears and puffballs

A doozy of a storm blew through Ontario, Canada on Saturday, May 21. In Ottawa, the storm caused more damage than either our legendary ice storm of 1998 or our more recent tornado. The tornado destroyed 80 hydro poles; this storm toppled 300.

We lost power for 7 days.

At that, we were lucky. Most houses in our neighbourhood are still without. As I write this, I hear generators in the distance. And chainsaws. And sirens.

Living without power for that long is disorienting for people of the 21st Century. We couldn’t focus. Routines fell apart. Sleep patterns were disrupted. We ate differently, and our digestive tracts protested. We moved from one room to another with a flashlight in one hand while flicking a (useless) light switch with the other.

Unable to work, or do pretty much anything, people moved around neighbourhoods like zombies. We mourned the loss of beloved trees. So many trees toppled or torn in two.

The event reminded us of the cruel indifference of nature. Sometimes a perfectly healthy tree had snapped while older, sicker ones nearby stayed standing.

The storm was not “fair” or “unfair.” It was its wild self.

Through it all, when we met neighbours on our walks, we counted our blessings:

  • We didn’t have bombs falling on our heads.
  • Gunmen were not shooting up our schools.
  • We had access to generators.
  • We had to worry about losing food, so that meant we had food to lose.
  • We had no internet, but we had data plans!

I found another blessing while burning up data on my phone powered by a generator, I read a post on one of my favourite Facebook pages: The View From Connaught Pond, Grant Dobson | Facebook. I learned that the prickly pear cactus can thrive in Canada. I never would have thought it! That simple knowledge gave me joy in our time of frustration.

Another spot of joy came when I dug around in my garden and came upon some puffballs. I hadn’t seen them since I was a kid tromping around our farm woodlot. It was a simple, silly thing, but it brought light to my day when electricity couldn’t.

Watch the puffball, and tell me, what brought you gratitude and joy today?

My husband demonstrates proper puffball technique.

8 thoughts on “Power, prickly pears and puffballs

  1. karen

    That truly was some storm. Losing power for this long has seemed a minor inconvenience compared to what could have been…life shifts into sharp focus in an instant.
    Two of our immediate blessings were our ability to still take a hot shower, and cook on our gas stove. Now that’s luxury!

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      On my walk this morning I heard fewer generators. A sign that we are getting there. For sure the hot shower is a blessing. We have a gas water heater too, and that was definitely on the counted blessings list.

  2. marianbeaman

    I like how you and your neighbors found things to be thankful for in the midst of this awful storm. Sad to say, I knew nothing about this disastrous storm in Ontario.

    In Florida we go through hurricanes every year, some mild, other wild. It appears no trees fell on your roof, but still the damage is disorienting. You have sustained extreme trauma which having a generator doesn’t cure. I hope things quiet down soon, and everyone gets power restored.

    So sorry to hear this, Arlene. Hugs! ((( )))

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Yes, that was another item on the counted blessings list. Storms like this are extremely rare, and we are grateful not to have to deal with the regular tornadoes and hurricanes of other climes. I think perhaps the changes in climate will bring about changes in construction and/or tree trimming protocols in future around here.

  3. Ally Bean

    In light of the Ukraine perspective is everything when it comes to inconveniences. I get that, but you did endure a slightly disorienting weather event. Pat yourselves on the back.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I just came back from my morning walk around the neighbourhood, and there are still houses running generators. I feel very lucky! I’m going to go and plug in my kettle now – what a luxury.


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